Ozzy Osbourne is opening up about the most “challenging” year of his life in a new interview with “Good Morning America.” The 71-year-old rock legend and his wife Sharon revealed to GMA host Robin Roberts how a “bad fall” in February 2019 lead to Osbourne being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.
“When I had the fall it was pitch black,” the Black Sabbath frontman said of the incident, which occurred in his bathroom. “I remember lying there thinking, ‘Well, you’ve done it now.’ Really calm. Sharon got me an ambulance. After that, it was all downhill.”
Osbourne was forced to postpone his world tour after undergoing surgery on his neck, which he said lead to nerve damage and severe pain. During that time, doctors diagnosed him with PRKN2, a form of Parkinson’s disease.
“There are so many different types of Parkinson’s,” Sharon told Roberts. “It’s not a death sentence by any stretch of the imagination, but it does affect certain nerves in your body. And it’s—it’s like you have a good day, a good day, and then a really bad day.”
Osbourne is now taking a “really low dose” of Parkinson’s medication and living with the effects from his surgery.
“I got a numbness down this arm from the surgery, my legs keep going cold,” Osbourne said. “I don’t know if that’s the Parkinson’s or what, you know, but that’s—see, that’s the problem. Because they cut nerves when they did the surgery. I’d never heard of nerve pain, and it’s a weird feeling.”
What is Parkinson’s disease?
Parkinson’s disease is a neurodegenerative disease that causes certain nerve cells that produce dopamine to die. The decrease in dopamine impacts the body’s ability to control movement, which is when symptoms of Parkinson’s appear. Although every person’s experience with Parkinson’s, including their disease progression, is unique, many will experience tremors in the hands and fingers (even at rest), slow movement (bradykinesia), muscle stiffness, “stooped” posture, sleep disturbances, lack of balance and slurred speech.
In a 2015 report, Statistics Canada estimated there were 55,000 Canadians living with Parkinson’s disease. Despite extensive research, the exact cause of Parkinson’s disease is still unknown, however scientists believe it is likely caused by a combination of genetics, environmental factors and age.
Mutations on the PRKN, GBA, LRRK2, SNCA genes have been linked to an increased risk of Parkinson’s disease, particularly in cases of early-onset (before the age of 50). Although many genetic diseases are considered heredity, only 15 per cent of people who develop the disease have a family history of Parkinson’s.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Parkinson’s disease typically affects people over the age of 60, with men more likely to develop the disease than women. Head injury, exposure to pesticides and methamphetamine and amphetamine abuse have all been linked as possible causes for Parkinson’s. Other research have linked caffeine and smoking consumption to lower rates of Parkinson’s development.
Without a specific test to confirm the disease, diagnosing Parkinson’s requires a series of tests and neurological consults, which can take time. While there is no cure, symptoms can be managed using medications and physical therapy.
Parkinson’s disease is not fatal, but there can be complications that can pose a serious health risk. Depending on the progression of the disease, many people are more likely to have serious falls, trouble swallowing and chewing and in later stages, cognitive impairment such as dementia. The biggest health risk for people with Parkinson’s is pneumonia (due to lack of ability to cough or swallow) and complications from fall-related injuries (infection, blood clots etc.).